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What Does an Executor Do?

Were you recently notified that you are the Executor of the estate of a loved one who recently passed away? If so, you may be unfamiliar with the duties and responsibilities you have as an Executor which can add stress and anxiety to the grief you are already experiencing. To give you some idea of what to expect, a Murfreesboro probate attorney at Bennett & Murfreesboro divorce attorneyMichael explains common duties and responsibilities of an Executor.

Identify and Secure Estate Assets 

As the Executor of the estate you need to identify and secure as many estate assets as possible. This includes things such as real property, notes and debts owed to the estate, personal property, and intangible assets. 

Begin the Probate Process

Even though you were appointed by the decedent to be the Executor, a probate judge must officially approve that appointment. To get the probate process started you will need to submit an original copy of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament to the appropriate probate court. You will also need to file a petition to open the probate of the estate and request to be officially appointed as the Executor. You should consider retaining the services of an experienced probate attorney to assist you. Once the court approves your appointment, you will be issued Letters Testamentary which authorize you to conduct the business associated with administering the decedent’s estate.

Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets

Not all assets are required to go through probate so you will need to make a thorough inventory of assets and determine which ones are included in the probate of the estate and which assets are distributed to beneficiaries outside of the probate process.

Submitting an Inventory

For all probate assets you should attempt to obtain a date of death value and create a written inventory. Unless the Testator waived the requirement, or all beneficiaries agree to waive it, you will have to file an Inventory of the estate’s assets with the court within 60 days of your appointment as Executor.

Notifying Creditors

The court will publish a notice of probate in a local newspaper within 30 days of the issuance of Letters Testamentary. While this notifies unknown creditors, you will need to notify known and potential creditors individually. Usually, an Executor does this by forwarding a copy of the court’s notice; however, consult with your attorney about the best way to fulfill this responsibility. 

Review Claims

In Tennessee, creditors have four months from the date of publication of the notice to file a claim against the estate. As the Executor you must review all claims submitted and approve or deny each one. If a claim is approved, it must be paid using estate assets. If the estate lacks sufficient assets to pay all claims, you must pay claims according to the priority established by law.

Defending the Estate

If the Will is contested, it the Executor’s duty to defend the Will throughout the ensuing litigation. Given the complex nature of a Will contest, this is something your probate attorney will handle for you.

Manage Estate Assets

While the probate process is ongoing the Executor has a duty to manage and protect all estate assets. If the estate lacks sufficient liquid assets to pay all claims, including estate taxes owed by the estate, you will have to decide which estate assets to liquidate.

Pay Estate Taxes

Every estate is potentially subject to federal gift and estate taxes. As the Executor, you have to determine if taxes are due from the estate. You may also need to prepare and file an estate tax return and pay any taxes owed by the estate.

Distribute Assets

At the conclusion of the probate process you must prepare any legal documents necessary to legally transfer the remaining estate assets to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.

Contact a Murfreesboro Probate Attorney 

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the job of Executor, or if you need help probating an estate, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro probate attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.


Stan Bennett